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Menu Planning for Spring

Menu Planning for Spring

A little thoughtful menu planning now will provide vital forage for our pollinators in late winter and spring. Some flowering bulbs and corms are lifesavers for bees when there is little else available to sustain them, others, such as Narcissus, are less attractive to pollinators.

Crocus tommasinianus provides a valuable source of nectar and pollen for bees. The flowers close at night offering a luxury mini-break with the promise of breakfast in bed to the clever bee enveloped in those petals overnight. I plant Crocus tommasinianus near a bench so that I can sit with a warm drink on a sunny day and watch bumblebees crawl headfirst into their flowers. It might be a simple pleasure, but it lifts this gardener’s spirits at the end of winter!

Crocus tommasinianus

Iris reticulata

Anemone blanda

Like Crocus, Iris reticulata requires very little space to grow so it can be slotted into even the smallest spot, as can Anemone blanda. Even a container of carefully selected flowers on a doorstep or balcony can be of huge value to bees in late winter and early spring.

Tulipa 'Peppermintstick’ is a bee magnet I wouldn’t wish to be without. The outside of its petals are rose-red, edged in white and they open to reveal gorgeous pure white inner petals. The flowers last well, as do those of Tulipa turkestanica, an undemanding beauty requiring none of the digging up and replanting business associated with other tulips.

Tulipa 'Peppermintstick’

Tulipa turkestanica

If you are battling with heavy, damp soil embrace Fritillaria meleagris, a bulb bearing more than a passing resemblance to popcorn. Plant them at four times the bulb’s depth and look forward to those flowers unfurling in late spring and attracting bees.

Fritillaria meleagris bulbs

Fritillaria meleagris

Menu planning now for pollinators in winter and spring might seem like hosting a banquet with no confirmed guests, but since I have seen butterflies or bees in my garden during every month of the year, I don’t believe that any consideration of their needs is a waste of my time. Even if there are no early emerging bees next February, I will still enjoy wonderful blooms and the promise of a garden brimming with flowers and pollinators in the coming months. There is so much to gain when we select flowers with pollinators in mind.

I am interested to hear about the spring bulbs that attract pollinators in other gardeners’ gardens. Please let me know if you have a recommendation.

Posted by Sarah Shoesmith

Sarah Shoesmith is a garden writer who blogs at .
She may be contacted via or @gardeningshoe1 on Twitter

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